Asset mapping tool released to help increase innovation in North Carolina communities

RTI International supported InnovateNC to create and implement tools for supporting economic development in cities across North Carolina


RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, NC – A unique, first-of-its-kind, tool is now available to help communities inventory and map existing assets for enhancing their local innovation economies. The InnovateNC Community Innovation Asset Map’s design serves to help North Carolina reach the top quartile of innovative states, by getting more people in more cities involved in a broad innovation turnaround.

InnovateNC is a cross-city learning collaborative to help expand innovation economies in five North Carolina communities— Asheville, Greensboro, Pembroke, Wilson, and Wilmington and the North Carolina coast. This innovation initiative is led by North Carolina State Institute for Emerging Issues and nine statewide partners, including RTI International.

“The next 20 years are going to be a period where every place -- and every person -- needs to be ready to relentlessly reinvent themselves,” said IEI Director Leslie Boney. “Communities need to build on their competitive assets, and this guide lays out the process to do that."

The tool reaches out to under-connected and disengaged citizens to get them involved in driving innovation in their communities. The Asset Map is unique in that it outlines the complete protocol and timeline, and is widely applicable to both urban and rural communities of all sizes. The design encourages collaboration in assessing the quality and inclusiveness of innovation ecosystems, and looks broadly across an entire entrepreneurial landscape.

“Bringing new ideas to market is critical for creating broad-based transformative growth,” said Wayne Holden, Ph.D., RTI president and CEO. “As the anchor institute of Research Triangle Park, RTI invested and developed this tool to help cities and communities around the world and in North Carolina create a path to economic prosperity.”

RTI supported the creation and implementation of two tools for developing strategic plans for innovation, economic development and inclusion in cities across North Carolina. In addition to supporting the development of the Asset Map, RTI researchers surveyed more than 1,000 community leaders across the state to identify how they perceive innovation and inclusive economic development in their communities.  The year-to-year results showed improved perception and awareness of community innovation, entrepreneurship, leadership and resources, as a result of the Innovate NC process.

"The Asset Map was designed with an intentional focus on inclusion,” said IEI Policy Manager Sarah Langer Hall. “It's terrific to have high-quality resources in a community, but not so great if large segments of your population don't know they are available or can't access them."

The project also was supported by the NC Department of Commerce’s Board of Science, Technology & Innovation. The InnovateNC Community Innovation Asset Map is offered to communities as a FREE download during its initial launch. Additional tools are planned for release by the end of 2017, at InnovateNC.org